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Tech Productivity

Issue #267  (The 6 Causes of Burnout) 03/25/24


Create the “Atomic Habits” You Need for Success
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I often share interesting productivity-related Hacker News threads in this intro because they often have good answers to questions people ask. In the case of the one I'm sharing here, while there are some interesting answers, the top answer is more of a non-answer, and may be the best one.

The thread in question is where a user asks How do you optimize your focus? In other words, how do you trigger what people refer to as "flow state".
Hand Writing Notes

Is pursuing "flow state" worthwhile?

The top answer reads in part:

"I believe it's fruitless to try to reach that state. Because the harder you try, more difficult it is to reach. I have been in the zone working on a messy desk, with tons of distractions around. And I have failed to be in the zone with all my website-blocking apps and having my phone away.

You get into the zone because you're obsessed with a problem or an idea. It's the key to being in the flow. Too many people try to optimize the environment, when it helps only a little."

There's a lot of truth in that. It reminds me of the advice baseball players often get when they say they want to hit more homeruns.

People who understand hitting in baseball know that if you go up to the plate trying to hit a homerun, you'll likely fail. This is because you end up doing things that are non-conducive to homerun hitting – squeezing the bat too hard, lengthening your swing, slowing down or dragging your bat through the zone, etc. All of that creates resistance.

It's best to just relax and try to make solid contact, without thinking about hitting a homerun. Then the homeruns will come naturally.

The same applies to getting into a flow state. Trying to 'set up' the flow state, you could say, is antithetical to being in a flow state. Maybe you have ways to achieve such a state but I'm guessing for most people it happens when they allow it to happen organically rather than trying to force it.

Now on to this week's hand-picked productivity links!


Tools & Apps

Cool Stuff — A bookmarking tool for those who constantly email things to themselves or take lots of screenshots. Available for web and iOS, with Safari and Chrome extensions available.

Ploito — A virtual office for remote work that includes video walkie-talkie, live avatars, rooms, burnout prevention, employee health tracker, and more.

Sunsama — Create the “atomic habits” you need for success. 6000+ ambitious professionals trust Sunsama to help plan, track, and streamline their work. With guided daily planning, AI-driven time estimates, auto-scheduling, and much more, Sunsama is the smarter way to achieve work-life balance.     sponsor  

NotionPlates — Free and premium Notion templates, organized under more than a dozen categories, including freelance, productivity, finance, AI, marketing, and lots more.

Type — A Mac app for note-taking that lets you quickly jot things down with the timestamp attached, without interrupting your flow.

OkaySend — A secure, drag-and-drop app for sharing documents and other files with clients and colleagues, with an intuitive UI and no login required. — A chatbot for Slack that uses cutting-edge AI to transform your Slack conversations into a structured, easily searchable knowledge base.

Articles & Resources

The Indiscipline Of Overwork — A sobering reminder from Ryan Holiday's personal experience where he describes pushing himself too hard physically and how this can also happen in our work.

The Paradox of Productivity — Relevant quote from the intro: "A paradox of productivity is that the things that feel productive ... are often not what produces important accomplishments; in fact, these things can get in the way." — Your team's efficiency, reimagined. Revolutionize your work management. Automate tasks, integrate seamlessly, and gain full visibility. Take every project to completion with ease. Try it free today.     sponsor  

What Your Brain Is Doing When You’re Not Doing Anything — Some research that uncovered areas of the brain, referred to as "task negative", that are active when doing things like zoning out on a couch.

The 6 Causes of Burnout (and How to Avoid It) — This is a good list that includes things like lack of control over what we're doing, low rewards, and a hostile work environment as causes of burnout.

Career Transitions: A Step-by-step Framework — Switching jobs or even careers is common in tech, so this is an important guide for anyone considering a change or about to take such a step.

Managing Your To-do List as a Staff+ Engineer — The term "staff+" refers to a range of engineering roles, and this is a practical list of things you can do if you're in one such role.


Have a suggestion for a productivity-related tool, article, or other resource? Send me a direct message via X (@LouisLazaris) and I’ll consider including it in a future issue.

Stay productive!


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